Staff Picks: A Summer Reading List for the Gardener

With Pinterest boards, Google search, and the rest of the Internet world, finding new ideas and discovering cool plants is usually one click away. And for those of you who still like to kick back with a book and iced lemonade in the garden hammock, here’s a short summer reading list the staff would like to share with you!

My Garden (Book): by Jamaica Kincaid


“It’s an adventure beyond what she was doing and I walked along with [Kincaid]. She has met amazing horticulturalists,” Marcy says.

This books allows readers into the world of Kincaid’s gardening passions and displeasures through flowering description and insightful opinion!

Carol recommends more than just books with a list of her favorite gardening British authors such as Rosemary Verey, Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd (not to be confused with the actor of the same name), and Beth Chatto.

Sunset Western Garden Book edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel


This is the most popular pick that all staff can agree on! Now on its 8th edition, it includes 500 new plant listings to the 8,000 listed as well as a photographic tour of the ‘Best of the West’ garden homes in Brenzel’s introduction.

“It’s a great starting book…[for] 101 gardening!” Ginger says.

Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses by Michael A. Dirr


“It’s written for horticulturalists and has all the proper information we require,” Antoni says.

And indeed it does with the vast expanse of references Dirr connects through identification and characteristics within each plant entry. This book even goes so far as to depict an illustration of leaves and branches to accompany each in depth entry!

Deb is also a fan of Dirr, as she favors another one of his books:

Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia


“It [has] great photos of plants in natural habitats and shows you how they wind up!” she says.

In the back of this book, there’s a list of plant suggestions for different situations in the garden as well. A must-read for the hardy gardener!

Sam enjoys many reference books for his gardening inspirations. Here’s his pick for the summer:

The Explorer’s Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials by Dan Hinkley


“[It] highlights really cool things that broadens your horizons on what you can grow here,” Sam says.

Hinkley has traveled through Chile, China, Nepal, Korea, and secluded parts of North
America to share his “rare and unusual perennials” with amazing photographs and commentary!

Paige has many garden books to suggest, and this is her current favorite:

The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge


“Not only does it talk about pretty much every tree and how it’s unique, but it also talks about how they survive. [Tudge] gives a new perspective on the sometimes seemingly inanimate trees,” Paige says.

She says it all.

Enjoy your summer everyone! May you find these books interesting and relaxing!


Photo credits to for their awesome selection of book cover photos.


‘Piece of Cake’ : Staff Picks for Easy to Grow Perennials

Lavender 'Hidcote'

Lavender ‘Hidcote’

Are you planting a perennial garden for the first time this year? Here are a few picks from our staff of colorful, easy-to-grow favorites. If you’ve been a perennial gardener for some time now, we’d love to hear what your top picks would be! A special thanks to T & L Nursery for the use of their lovely photos.


Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ & Lavender ‘Hidcote’

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’


These three perennials go together well, require similar growing conditions, are relatively easy to grow and add a lot of color over a long period of time.


Lady’s Mantle & Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’



Lady’s mantle because raindrops love to use the leaves as a backdrop to “stardom”. And Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ because the seed head appears like black sundrops dancing in your garden.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'

Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’




Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’


I really like crocosmia because they are so many shades of red and orange and because they are so easy. I planted one in front of my kitchen window to attract hummingbirds!

Bleeding Heart 'Valentine'

Bleeding Heart ‘Valentine’


Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart 'King of Hearts'

Bleeding Heart ‘King of Hearts’


Bleeding hearts are early spring bloomers, old-fashioned, and bring back memories of Grandma! The new varieties have great names like, ‘King of Hearts’. They’re also deer resistant.

….We hope these suggestions help you in planning our your garden this spring. Remember we are always here to talk design and planting and care with you. Just drop by the store, we’re open seven days a week!

Garden Spots: Sandy’s Dream Garden



We were awed by this glorious Fatsia japonica. Have you ever seen one this big?


The glossy leaves of this Hart’s tongue fern really stand out in the winter garden.


Gorgeous foliage pervades this garden. We particularly enjoyed this Arum italicum.


Signs of spring!


Sandy also has an impressive collection of heuchera. We were drawn to the flame-colored leaves of this little beauty.


Sandy Gunderson’s garden is a labor of love. An avid gardener for many years, in her current home she has found the space to fully express her plant appreciation and has built a design piece by piece that reflects her passion. Recently, we got to view Sandy’s garden, and for those of you who are hellebore-lovers, boy oh boy do we have a treat for you. Sandy has about 35-40 hellebores in her collection, many of which were blooming when we came by.


The aptly named Helleborus “Party Dress”.


Helleborus “Spring Promise”

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Helleborus “Sally” shyly opens her petals.

Sandy, her husband Ken and Ziggy the Abyssinian kitty have lived in their home for five years. Sandy has accumulated a remarkable collection of perennials, through her short stint at Bear Creek Nursery, frequent trips to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and more than a few stops at the Garden Spot among other sources.


There’s no shortage of art in this art-lover’s garden.


Nothing makes a statement in the garden quite like a swath of glossy black mondo grass.


One of our favorite things about Sandy’s garden, is how she uses seed heads to enhance the winter landscape. Here some hypericum lend color to a chilly February day.


Witch hazel ‘Diane’

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Sandy has planted everything in the yard herself, except the larger foundation plants and trees. When they first moved in, she dug some particularly stubborn shrubs out, to create space for her horticultural treasures.

Looking at her garden now…we have to agree with her that it was worth the effort!

NWFGS Sneak Peek!

Today our crew drove down to Seattle for a sneak peek at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show gardens. And boy oh boy was it worth the trip! The gardens were just spectacular this year. Now we wouldn’t want to post too many spoilers. But here’s a little peek at the innovative, artful and amazing gardens we saw today.

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A ‘mother/daughter’ garden by Sue Goetz and Courtney Goetz with a garden ‘retreat’ to please both generations, fully equipped for a zombie attack no less.




A joyous ode to ‘upcycling’ from the lovely Vanca Lumsden and Judith Jones. Plant geeks take a close look at this garden, there are plants here esp. ferns that you won’t find anywhere else.

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As always, the small gardens in the Sky Bridge were every bit as exciting as the larger gardens.




We especially appreciated this teeny tiny Seahawks garden by garden author Janit Calvo. So pretty!

We’re headed down to the show again this Thursday on our party bus. What fun! If you want to join us, there a just a few seats left. Call us tomorrow between 9 am and 5 pm to reserve your spot: 360-676-5480

Hope to see you all there!

Overwinter your Perennials with Tony B

It happens to the best of us. Winter approaches and we still haven’t found a spot in the garden for that special lavender we picked up over the summer or that hardy geranium that we dug up in the autumn.

For those of you who still have perennials sitting about in plastic nursery pots, Tony B. is here with some great tips for overwintering those special plants that you wouldn’t like to


Once the temperatures are freezing outside during the day, you’ll want to start bringing your perennials inside at night. Just like folks used to put their empty milk bottles outside at night and bring the full ones in in the morning, you need that type of routine to do your best winterizing.

There is a little prep you need to do before starting this new routine. Firstly, weed your plants.Get rid of any little sprouts that have popped up.

Then mulch your plant. When you top dress your perennials in pots, you’re giving them a little extra warmth to help make it through the winter.

Generally you would use Gardener and Bloome’s Soil Building Compost, a nice woody neutral mulch. But if you have a plant that seems to need a little extra nutrients, you can compostuse Harvest Supreme. Keep in mind that you don’t want to add too much nitrogen to your plant, or it could mold over the winter, especially when placed in an area that’s not well-ventilated.

Now that you’ve mulched your plant, you’ll want to do a little trimming. Trim away the second or third year growth, as well as things you didn’t like about the plant. Just a little bit, here or there.

Using the example of the lavender plant, you don’t want to see old lavender flowers. Trim to a couple of nodes below the flower.

This way your plant will be using less energy and more can be focused downward to the crown or the roots.

Next, let’s talk blankets. Plastic pots are thin-walled and not one’s first choice when it comes to overwintering. Nonetheless, if you wrap it up, that will help increase the temperature greatly. You can use an old towel or bubble wrap or even burlap. Wrap a couple layers around your pot for extra warmth through the winter.

Lastly, there’s water. Toni says don’t put your perennials away dry. Ideally you would leave them outside through the rains of October. They should be damp. And although you won’t water very often, although he suggests you be conservative with your watering, don’t be stingy. Don’t allow your perennials to go bone dry. Even in a dormant state, they do need some water. Just as they would get if they were planted outside.

Now that your perennials are prepped, there is one last thing to keep in mind. Light! If you’re keeping your perennials in an area where there is little light, such as a windowless garage, be sure to put them outside on sunny days.

Going back to the example of lavender, a lavender plant that has no sunlight for three months will be sure to die. Even though there is little foliage on your plants, they still need light. So do give it to them!


We hope this helps you overwinter your perennials successfully this winter. As always, give us a call at the store with any questions you may have.

How to Store Your Dahlias for Winter


Dahlias, with their rich colors and spiky petals, are a dazzling addition to any garden. One caveat is that because they originated in Mexico and Central America, they are not always able to survive our long, wet winters here in the northwest. If you don’t have particularly good drainage in your garden, you should consider digging up your dahlias.

Deb is here to show you how to prep your dahlia tubers for winter storage in 3 easy steps.


Step 1

Once you’ve dug up your dahlia, brush off all the dirt you can get off with your hands. Then wash them down really well. Deb says you can go even farther than shown in this photo. You want to prevent damp soil from causing rot. So really hose them down.


Step 2

At this point, you can store your dahlia tubers or if you’ve no space for big clumps…you can break them up with something sharp like a hori hori knife as seen in this picture. For those of you who are breaking up your dahlia tubers, discard rotted tubers or those that you might have cut through.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to divide dahlias since they don’t have ‘eyes’ at this time of year. If you feel uncertain, go ahead and wait until the spring.

dahlia tubers pic

Step 3

Let your tubers dry for at least one week. Any wounds should callus over and the tuber will look like a russet potato when dry with netted skin.

Store them inside a cardboard box or other breathable material. They have to be able to breath, or they will rot. For packing material you can use sawdust, straw, vermiculite or shredded paper. Make sure that the bulbs don’t touch each other. As Deb says, “you wouldn’t want one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch”!

Place them in an unheated garage or basement that doesn’t freeze. You are looking for a cool dry place. The reason being that if it’s too warm, the dahlia tubers will begin to sprout prematurely.


Voila! Your dahlias are ready to overwinter. Check on them periodically to remove any that might be rotting despite your careful prep. This can happen to the best of us.

In the meantime, make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with some seed catalogs until it’s time to replant next spring.

Heavenly Hellebores and the ‘POTW’ Winner

Happy November Garden Friends!

As autumn winds on, things continue to buzz here at the Garden Spot. We are awash in heavenly Hellebores. Over twenty varieties and counting.


Right now the stunning ‘Jacob’ is in bloom and we’re all looking forward to the upcoming Hellebore event next Saturday.

Katie Miller of Skagit Gardens, will be here on November 9th to talk about all the latest and greatest cultivars. This is a great opportunity to learn a little more about this beautiful and deer-resistant perennial.

This week we chose Lisa Citron’s pretty poppies as our ‘Photo of the Week’ on Facebook.

Lisa Citron

Congratulations Lisa! You can claim your prize at our nursery anytime next week.

Want to be a winner next time? It’s easy! Just post your favorite gardening pics to our Facebook page. One lucky winner is chosen each week to receive a gift planter from our store.